• Current Reads

      Life after Life Jill McCorkle
      This Is Your Captain Speaking Jon Methven
      The Starboard Sea Amber Dermont
      Snark David Denby
      Bring Up the Bodies Hilary Mantel
  • Popular Tags

  • Recent Reflections

  • Categories

  • Moleskine’s All-Time Favorites

  • Echoes

    sumithra MAE on D.H. Lawrence’s Why the…
    To Kill a Mockingbir… on [35] To Kill A Mockingbird…
    Deanna Friel on [841] The Price of Salt (Carol…
    Minnie on [367] The Rouge of the North 怨…
    travellinpenguin on [841] The Price of Salt (Carol…
    travellinpenguin on Libreria Acqua Alta in Ve…
  • Reminiscences

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,041,506 hits
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,726 other followers

  • Advertisements

Lifetime Reading Plan


Weeding of the collection unearthed a copy of The New Lifetime Reading Plan: The Classical Guide to World Literature, Revised and Expanded by Clifton Fadiman and John S. Major. It was gifted to me when I finished my M.Phil. degree. The plan is a very ambitious but comprehensive one, providing readers with brief, informative and entertaining introductions to more than 130 classics of world literature. From Homer to Hawthorne, Plato to Pascal, and Shakespeare to Solzhenitsyn, the great writers of Western civilization can be found in its pages. Mine is a copy of the fourth edition, which features a simpler format that arranges the works chronologically in five sections (The Ancient World; 300-1600; 1600-1800; and The 20th Century). This is a lifetime reading plan, and it may take 50 years to read these books. If you accept this challenge, Fadiman says your commitment to this plan should be like your attitude toward a career, marriage, or children. Work at it and these books will become your lifetime companions. I was not slavish or completely faithful to this list (I doubt I’ll read everything on this list), but I did read (in whole or in part) about a fourth of the 133 entries on this list. The book/giant list is more like a reference for finding new reading ideas. I like lists, which give me the illusion of order in a chaotic world, but I never feel obliged to fulfilling any list.

1. The Epic of Gilgamesh
2. Homer, The Iliad
3. Homer, The Odyssey
4. Confucius, The Analects
5. Aeschylus, The Oresteia
6. Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone
7. Euripides, Alcestis, Medea, Hippolytus, The Trojan Women, Electra, The Bacchae
8. Herodotus, The Histories
9. Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War
10. Sun-tzu, The Art of War
11. Aristophanes, Lysistrata, The Clouds, The Birds
12. Plato, Selected Works
13. Aristotle, Ethics, Politics, Poetics
14. Mencius, The Book of Mencius
15. The Ramayana
16. The Mahabharata
17. The Bhagavad Gita
18. Ssu-ma Ch’ien, Records of the Grand Historian
19. Lucretius, On the Nature of Things
20. Virgil, The Aeneid
21. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
22. Saint Augustine, The Confessions
23. Kalidasa, The Cloud Messenger, Sakuntala
24. The Koran
25. Hui-neng, The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch
26. Firdausi, Shah Nameh
27. Sei Shônagon, The Pillow Book
28. Lady Murasaki, The Tale of Genji
29. Omar Khayyam, The Rubaiyat
30. Dante, The Divine Comedy
31. Luo Kuan-chung, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms
32. Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
33. The Thousand and One Nights
34. Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
35. François Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel
36. Wu Ch’eng-en, Journey to the West
37. Michel de Montaigne, Selected Essays
38. Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
39. William Shakespeare, Complete Works
40. John Donne, Selected Works
41. The Plum in the Golden Vase (Chin P’ing Mei)
42. Galileo, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems
43. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
44. René Descartes, Discourse on Method
45. John Milton, Paradise Lost, Lycidas, On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity, Sonnets, Areopagitica
46. Molière, Selected Plays
47. Blaise Pascal, Thoughts (Pensées)
48. John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress
49. John Locke, Second Treatise of Government
50. Matsuo Bashô, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
51. Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
52. Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
53. Voltaire, Candide and other works
54. David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
55. Henry Fielding, Tom Jones
56. Ts’ao Hsüeh-ch’in, The Dream of the Red Chamber (a.k.a. The Story of the Stone)
57. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions
58. Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy
59. James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson
60. Thomas Jefferson and others, Basic Documents in American History (ed. Richard B. Morris)
61. Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, The Federalist Papers (ed. Clinton Rossiter)
62. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust
63. William Blake, Selected Works
64. William Wordsworth, The Prelude, Selected Shorter Poems, Preface to the Lyrical Ballads
65. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Ancient Mariner, Christabel, Kubla Khan, Biographia Literaria, Writings on Shakespeare
66. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Emma
67. Stendhal, The Red and the Black
68. Honoré de Balzac, Père Goriot, Eugénie Grandet, Cousin Bette
69. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Selected Works
70. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Selected Tales
71. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
72. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, The Subjection of Women
73. Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle, The Origin of Species
74. Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls
75. Edgar Allan Poe, Short Stories and Other Works
76. William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair
77. Charles Dickens, Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Hard Times, Our Mutual Friend,
The Old Curiosity Shop, Little Dorrit
78. Anthony Trollope, The Warden, The Last Chronicle of Barset, The Eustace Diamonds, The Way We Live Now, Autobiography
79. The Brontë Sisters:
79A. Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
79B. Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights
80. Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Civil Disobedience
81. Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons
82. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto
83. Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Bartleby the Scrivener
84. George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch
85. Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass,
86. Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
87.Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov
88. Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
89. Henrick Ibsen, Selected Plays
90. Emily Dickenson, Collected Poems
91. Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass
92. Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
93. Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams
94. Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Castorbridge
95. William James, The Principles of Psychology, Pragmatism, Four Essays from The Meaning of Truth,
The Varieties of Religious Experience
96. Henry James, The Ambassadors
97. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, The Genealogy of Morals, Beyond Good and Evil, and other works
98. Sigmund Freud, Selected Works, including The Interpretation of Dreams, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, and
Civilization and Its Discontents
99. George Bernard Shaw, Selected Plays and Prefaces
100. Joseph Conrad, Nostromo
101. Anton Chekhov, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard, Selected Short Stories
102. Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country, The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth
103. William Butler Yeats, Collected Poems, Collected Plays, Autobiography
104. Natsume Sôseki, Kokoro
105. Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past
106. Robert Frost, Collected Poems
107. Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
108. E.M. Forster, A Passage to India
109. Lu Hsün, Collected Short Stories
110. James Joyce, Ulysses
111. Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, The Waves
112. Franz Kafka, The Trial, The Castle, Selected Short Stories
113. D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers, Women in Love
114. Junichiro Tanizaki, The Makioka Sisters
115. Eugene O’Neill, Mourning Becomes Electra, The Iceman Cometh, Long Day’s Journey into Night
116. T.S. Eliot, Collected Poems, Collected Plays
117. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
118. William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying
119. Ernest Hemingway, Short Stories
120. Yasunari Kawabata, Beauty and Sadness
121. Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths, Dreamtigers
122. Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita; Pale Fire; Speak, Memory
123. George Orwell, Animal Farm, 1984, Burmese Days
124. R.K. Narayan, The English Teacher, The Vendor of Sweets
125. Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Krapp’s Last Tape
126. W.H. Auden, Collected Poems
127. Albert Camus, The Plague, The Stranger
128. Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March, Herzog, Humboldt’s Gift
129. Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, The First Circle, Cancer Ward
130. Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
131. Yukio Mishima, Confessions of a Mask, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
132. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
133. Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart


13 Responses

  1. Zola’s not on the list, although I guess everyone couldn’t be included.

  2. Okay then. I think I can probably count on one hand how many of those I have read. Ha! I do like lists, but ones like these have the potential to throw me into an unrecoverable malaise.

    • I like to draw on different lists and see what intrigues me. Have you heard of all the lists by The King’s English bookstore in Salt Lake City? They’ve got great lists like best mysteries, novels to be read 50 years from now, best short novels, novels that you cannot put down, etc.

  3. That is a daunting list. One that I’d like to take a crack at, I’ve got a few of these under my belt but there’s a lot here that I really should read. Thanks for posting this.

  4. Terrifying! Great list in the sense of not being locked into a Western cultural groove…

  5. I’ve read about 30 of them. That’s quite a list!

    • I total around 30 as well. Lots to catch up!

      • I read about 15. Quite a few of the aforementioned titles are on my to-read list. Uni work makes it pretty challenging for me to do my own reading but I really shouldn’t complain much because I do enjoy some of our reading assignments.

  6. I’ve read 11 of these. At least I have a LITTLE culture in me! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: